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Dwight Howard On: Hawks, Perceptions, Free Agency

Dwight Howard, who signed a three-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, is upset at the perceptions about him around the league and with fans, that he is a bad teammate and underachiever who doesn’t care enough about winning. In an interview with Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, the center addressed a number of topics. The entire piece is definitely worth a look, but here are some of the highlights:

On what a new beginning in Atlanta means to him:

I changed up everything around me. I hold myself more accountable in certain situations. I try to be a better man, a better father, a better teammate. I know a lot of the stuff that’s been said about me that I can’t really control and has been false, but at the same time, I just want to show this city who I really am and show my teammates what kind of teammate I am. They’ve been great to me, and I think it’s a great situation for me to be in.”

On what changes he has made over the summer:

Just things off the court, a lot of the stuff that was happening around me, just personal things. I tried to change that up and just really start over, get a clean slate. No offense to the people that I had around me, but I just wanted to start over, start fresh. Like I said, it’s a new beginning, so I wanted everything to be fresh. I didn’t want to bring any old baggage or anything from my past to this organization. They believe in me, this city believes in me, so I just wanted to make sure that when I’m out there on the court that I’m free, that I can give this city and this team everything that I’ve got.

On why his pairing with James Harden in Houston didn’t work out:

Well, sometimes things don’t work like they should. I’ve never had an issue with James. I wish him nothing but the best. I just think the timing of everything was a little bit different. That’s OK. All that stuff did was just mold me for this moment here, this organization, this team. They’ve asked me to be a leader. It’s my job to come in here every night and provide physicality and the leadership that this team needs.

On if he was surprised that he didn’t receive any maximum salary offers in free agency this summer:

Well, I knew all the situations that was going on. I really only looked into one place and that was the Hawks. I didn’t go to other teams. As soon as free agency opened, I met with Coach Bud [Mike Budenholzer] and [GM Wes Wilcox]. After the meeting, I went back to my car and I was like, “Man, this is where I want to be.” I didn’t need to meet with other teams. I didn’t care about what offers were on the table. I wanted to be in Atlanta. I wanted to represent for this team.

On if he feels pressured not to be himself:

Yeah, a lot of times I do feel like that. When I’m smiling, I’m supposedly not taking the game seriously. When I’m not smiling, then it’s like, “He don’t care. He’s just out there.” When I was in Orlando and everything was going well and we were winning, even in L.A. when we won those games and stuff like that, me smiling didn’t bother people. But like I said, you really can’t please people. I know everybody’s attention is on what I’m doing on the floor. My job is to be the best teammate I can be, push these guys to the limit every day, make sure that I’m being the right type of leader.

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